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14 minutes ago, ChaosRaven said:
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The problem is that threatening Shimei with a sword should be an almost suicidal action, because it looks like an act of desperation and an indirect confession of guilt. Without being backed by an army, it would be Tojo & Saito against the whole shinsengumi corps, which would have been certain death for them a soon as Shimei wouldn't directly be threatened anymore. Only Takeru as the commander of the shinsengumi should have the power to decide this conflict in that situation. But since they knew each other well, that could have been actually the case.

Still doesn't make sense to me that the Shinsengumi had to pledge to get Shimei free. I think Tojo must have had a higher authority, with Shimei being new and all, otherwise the whole situation wouldn't make sense. I think if the situation would be reversed and Shimei being in Tojo's court, threatening Tojo after being convicted, he would have been killed on the spot or as soon as he'd released Tojo. That said, not even Shimei itself did understand the situation at that point, so it was certainly intended to be quite confusing by the writer. XD

Though it made sense that Koume couldn't interfere, since she wasn't the official Shogun and almost nobody knew about her status anyway.

 

Spoiler

I agree that it looks that way from Shimei's side, but from Tojo's side it looked like a really elaborate frame-up to the point Shimei looked plenty guilty and trying to sweep the incident under the rug quickly by arresting Tojo. Which is actually what was happening, due to the commander's actions.

The outcomes if the Shisengumi resisted would've have been the death of Shimei and possibly another magistrate. Not positive for anyone involved. It's flat-out better to let the arrest run its course. Shimei telling his people to resist would've probably resulted in the fight you'd expect, but in the moment, everyone was too flabbergasted and worried about Shimei.

Even after releasing Shimei, it was only done in Tojo's home province, where the troops therein would be loyal of many years, like Saito. Without anybody of authority getting involved, Tojo was literally the only person of authority left. Outside of outright insubordination by all members of Shimei's province, which would lead to armed conflict with Tojo's, there was nothing to be done here after the point Tojo arrests Shimei.

If the situation were the opposite and Shimei had someone like Okita ambushing Tojo in court, I think it would've turned out just the same way. Tojo would be under arrest and Shimei would have the authority to put him in trial later. That said, Shimei wouldn't do things the way Tojo did, and Tojo has much more experience and connections, so it is hard to even imagine the situation.

It is true that Tojo's reputation and presence would help crush objections from uninvolved parties much more than Shimei's, though.

 

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2 hours ago, Mr Poltroon said:
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I agree that it looks that way from Shimei's side, but from Tojo's side it looked like a really elaborate frame-up to the point Shimei looked plenty guilty and trying to sweep the incident under the rug quickly by arresting Tojo. Which is actually what was happening, due to the commander's actions.

The outcomes if the Shisengumi resisted would've have been the death of Shimei and possibly another magistrate. Not positive for anyone involved. It's flat-out better to let the arrest run its course. Shimei telling his people to resist would've probably resulted in the fight you'd expect, but in the moment, everyone was too flabbergasted and worried about Shimei.

Even after releasing Shimei, it was only done in Tojo's home province, where the troops therein would be loyal of many years, like Saito. Without anybody of authority getting involved, Tojo was literally the only person of authority left. Outside of outright insubordination by all members of Shimei's province, which would lead to armed conflict with Tojo's, there was nothing to be done here after the point Tojo arrests Shimei.

If the situation were the opposite and Shimei had someone like Okita ambushing Tojo in court, I think it would've turned out just the same way. Tojo would be under arrest and Shimei would have the authority to put him in trial later. That said, Shimei wouldn't do things the way Tojo did, and Tojo has much more experience and connections, so it is hard to even imagine the situation.

It is true that Tojo's reputation and presence would help crush objections from uninvolved parties much more than Shimei's, though.

 

Spoiler

I think I somehow missed that Shimei was actually imprisoned in Tojo's home province. That certainly explains why they couldn't get Shimei free anymore. Tojo was probably aware that he technically shouldn't have the authority in Nakamachi to arrest Shimei, but who would oppose willingly a well known hardliner magistrate from Kitamachi? He probably speculated rightly that nobody would dare to resist him in such a confusing situation if he just threw in his full personal authority, and took advantage of that. The voice actor actually did a great job to support this. I was almost blown away when his teasing voice suddenly changed to dictator style. I thought at first that another person had entered the court. It was certainly a quite memorable scene. ^_^

 

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Recently I finished Hinako's route in Natsu no Ame. And well - it wasn't bad, but yeah, contrary to Hinako herself, it was indeed kinda... flat? Had many nice moments, but felt a bit unfinished. So I have to agree that it's the weakest route of the game. But it had nice H-scenes ;)

Currently I'm on Misa's route, and so far it's great.

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I'm on a roll with VN's this year must be cuz of the pandemic and all the staying at home

So I managed to finish the Utawarerumono - Prelude to the Fallen. It's the 2020 remake/remaster of the original 2002's Utawarerumono. Clocked in about 32hours, more VNs need to incorporate a play time with your save file smh.

First off, I'll post my favorite BGM from it so I can be all nostalgic while I type this out:

(OK, this BGM is a bit misleading because this track totally sounds waaay too tragic- this VN is actually pretty lighthearted throughout LOL- but the few times something sad/tragic happens and this music plays I always loved it).

I read Chaos;Child before this, which was a modern high school SoL/pseudoscience adventure. Utawarerumono is a medieval light fantasy adventure featuring animal people and was originally written in 2002. Big contrast :sachi:

The protagonist is a nameless amnesiac guy (go figure) who wakes up in a rural village called Yamayura. He was apparently found gravely injured and slowly nursed back to health by a local villager cutie by the name of Eruru- the main heroine of the story. She's the typical nice girl next door supportive caring type with good mannerisms but can also throw the occasional jealous fit. And she also has fluffy ears. And a fluffy tail. Which the protagonist gropes after pondering if they were real or not (they're real by the way). Anyways before the protag can question this any more its revealed he also has an unconventional feature of his own: an unremovable mask which further adds to his mystery:

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Whoop dee doo, nameless amnesiac protagonist with a unremovable mask further obscuring his identity. And I still don't know what animal the folk from this VN are based off of. Squirrel? Fox? Lemur?

Protag then is introduced to Eruru's younger sister, Aruru, and their grandmother Tuskur, the chief of the village who welcomes him with open arms and grants him the same name she gave her late son: Hakuowlo. Haku would spend the next few weeks recovering and mingling with the villagers. He's a capable protagonist: he teaches them how to properly cultivate their land to grow crops, and even how to forge iron to trade and bolster their economy. None of the villagers were knowledgeable in these aspects at all. Gives you some good brainstorm candy for just who Haku is or where he could be from for him to know these things (you'll probably be wrong lol).

Eventually the peaceful slice of life days will come to an abrupt end and the VN will shift to a warring nations adventure narrative and throw in some SRPG gameplay. There's about 30-40 SRPG levels/battles that you'll play through in the entirety of the 20-30 hours it takes for you to read through this VN:

Spoiler

 

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The SRPG was aight. Your characters are pretty OP; the only way you could lose is if you try to rush through things and so you let a unit go too far and they get mobbed to death. I built all my characters as glass cannons (minus Aruru- she's a beast of a tank) so I could just one shot enemies. Who needs defense. Though I didn't bother playing HARD mode...probably'd get my ass kicked lol.

 

There are many friends and enemies, love and betrayal, ups and downs, happy and sad moments to be had as you expand your empire. The story is linear but in between battles you are given a bit of freedom in which slice of life events you want to read (none are missable, thank god, because you'll eventually exhaust them anyway so feel free to pick whatever order you want). There's also a glossary to help with all the fantasy terminologies like the different races, locations, religions, etc... Definitely helpful. The total overall narrative is effectively 15% peaceful village slice of life, 75% warring nations conflict + the slice of life in between battles, and 10% Hakuowlo revelations.

Story: 7/10 It's a solid medieval adventure light fantasy thing. Some of the conflicts between nations were meh and probably could've been cut imo but ultimately they do help expand the world and lore. Slice of life moments were pretty good. End game revelations about Haku are pretty cool, nothing meta or mind blowing.

Characters: 7/10 They're all extremely one dimensional, I mean c'mon its 2002 whattaya expect heh, but they're all given their own little story arcs and were likeable nonetheless. Particularly fond of Eruru & Aruru, they're the poster girls ofc they'd win. Oboro was a total bro, they totally pulled off the 'starts off a complete prick and then becomes your right hand man' pretty well for him. Hakuowlo himself was entirely capable and leader material, no complaints. 

Art: 7/10 Pretty good looking despite 2002. Idk if they improved or just used the original assets.

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Music: 6/10 (original), 8/10 remake. The remake version I played offered two BGM settings: original: offering only the original Uwatarerumono tracks, and remake: offering the original + sequel tracks. Original is pretty lacking, I would change the settings back and forth just to see what the original played on certain scenes and yeah it's pretty limited. Remake would change tracks in the middle of scenes based on what was happening whereas original would use that one track for the entirety of the scene.

Gameplay/SRPG: 6/10 I'm just not a fan of SRPGs, lel. But it was aight.

Overall 7/10 enjoyable VN. I may watch the 24 episode Utawarerumono 2006 anime, I heard it's what many people would do before reading the next entry back then since it was the only translated version of the first entry at the time, but I'm ready for Mask of Deception! Pretty interested in seeing what they'll do with the narrative, there's literally 13 years between the release of the first and second VNs. So the writers were like, oh yeah, y'all remember that VN we made a decade ago? Let's make a SEQUEL!

Misc Thoughts/Comments (SPOILERS)!!

Spoiler

-This VN has tragic moments, but typically tends to lean towards the lighthearted end of the spectrum and so darker events would get glossed over. Tuskur, the chief of Yamamura village dies after a scuffle with one of the feudal lord's grunts, but not before entrusting Haku with her granddaughters and the village, and so Haku goes on his conquest to liberate the land. He does so successfully, becomes the new owlo (emperor) of the country and renames it Tuskur.

Then in one of the random warring nations conflict, Yamamura village gets decimated entirely along with all of the villagers, leaving Eruru and Aruru to be the sole survivors of their village. The VN never really gave Haku and the girls a dedicated scene to reflect/mourn over such a big loss. They get sad for a bit and then kind of just get over it.

-I didn't get Yuzuha's purpose. She was this frail terminal sickly girl who everyone loved and cared for unconditionally and wanted her to grant all of her wishes. Ultimately she ended up having Hakuowlo's child before passing, to leave proof that she existed in this world. But Haku already has Eruru as his love, YO WTF MAN I WONDER HOW ERURU REACTED TO THAT. I MEAN, DIDN'T HE BECOME ONE WITH ERURU ALREADY:

Spoiler

FDEVK5N.jpg

I heard the original VN had some light Hscenes. This one only goes as far as saying they become one and then fade to black kekeke.

-Same with Kuuya. Didn't get her purpose. She was the owlo of another country and randomly took interest in Haku when he became the owlo of Tuskur and kept having random middle of the night meetings with him. Then she and her nation becomes the big bad and declare war on everybody because they were tired of being outcasted. Eventually she downfalls and due to trauma regresses to a childlike mental state. What was the point.

-There's a very weird powerspike that happens when Tuskur is battling Kunnekamun's Abh-Khamus (the 5meter tall robot army). Literally they give you an SRPG battle where you have to survive X amount of turns and all of your units deal 0 damage to the Abh-Khamus. Once of those forced lost battle types. Then Haku goes one on one vs a general Abh-Khamu to buy time for his people to evacuate, then he gets oneshotted, and Aruru + her pet legendary tiger Mukkuro try to protect and they get oneshotted and Aruru almost dies... TL;DR the Abh-Khamus are pretty well depicted as an unbeatable foe. Narratively they also took out an entire top3 power ranking country in 4 days. Then all of a sudden in future battles they're not invincible anymore you can one shot whole armies of them with no explanation provided.

-I liked that the beginning mystery questions that were just brushed off- like Haku's mask, why the people of this world have ears and tails, etc. turned out to be vital to the late game lore. Regarding humanity: Earth's surface has unfortunately regressed to become inhospitable to humans, and so the only people that do live on the surface are the anthropomorphic animal-human hybrids races. As for Haku: his mask is a mark of his deity origins- he is the God Uitsualnemetia that the people of this world worship and can make contracts with (give me your mind body and soul and I'll grant your wish). Eruru was actually initially only at his side because she sold herself to him in exchange to save Aruru prior to the Haku waking up at the very beginning of the story. I too felt the guilty shocking distant revelation of "all this time Eruru was only loyal and caring because she was forced to" though we all know her feelings of love towards Haku are indeed genuine by the end. But alas, he is sealed away...

I really really wonder if the sequels will deal with this:

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10+ YEARS LATER DEVS BE LIKE, EYYY LET'S MAKE A SEQUEL CALLED MASK OF DECEPTION!@#

COINCIDENCE? I THINK NOT!!!!!

Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception review – Tech-Gaming

 

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I recently finished marathoning the LN YouJitsu and since there's a 2-3 month wait for vol14, I've decided to continue on Kinugasa's other works. I read the Akatsuki no Goei 5.5 years ago so now I'll read the sequel,  Akatsuki no Goei ~Tsumibukaki Shuumatsuron~ before finally moving on to Reminiscence. Been so long since I read the prequel so hopefully I didn't forget too much. Also can't believe it's already been 3 years since I last read a VN (Sen no Hatou)...

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So, I have just finished Misa's route in Natsu no Ame, which means completing whole VN.

Misa's route was truly wonderful, almost like from the different game :o I mean, Rikako's and Midori's routes were also pretty good, but this one really outshines them. On the surface, in the beginning it might have look like your typical moege teacher route, but it really goes beyond that. Mostly thanks to Nene ;) (It reminded me of Language of Love a bit). I love how, especially the second part, is focused on the themes of family. Romance part is also the best among four routes - it was the only route, where first sex scene didn't jump out of nowhere ;) There was proper build up to that moment. It was really lovely, heartwarming route - I laughed and cried a lot, even though it wasn't full-blown nakige. Epilogue was also sweet.

Spoiler

Family ending! My favorite kind in charage. Well, they aren't married yet during the epilogue itself, but are engaged and act like a proper family already.

So my ranking of routes would probably be something like Misa >>> Midori = Rikako (cannot choose which one I liked more, as their moods were quite different) > Hinako (lovely heroine, but the route itself feels unpolished, a bit disappointing, especially since I'm always keen on osananajimi routes).

Graphics, music and voices were really good - no complaints from me at all.

I agree with Joyjason's review, that it was nice touch to have epilogues narrated by heroines.

If all routes were of the same quaility as Misa's, this VN would easily be the 9, but since the other three lacked that extra something, after all I'll settle with  8/10. Very good charage, with decent pacing, one outsdanding route, two very good ones, and one a bit weaker. So while my review isn't as enthusiastic as Joyjason's one, I'd still recommend this game to anyone who isn't allergic to a bit of SoL, or Konno Asta's writing ;) Not bad for his first VN :D

I think it could gain some popularity if it got decent translation, but perhaps now 800x600 resolution might put off some people... after all it's 2009 VN. But I'd love to see what Nekonyansoft could make of it :)

 

Edited by adamstan
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Today I started reading one of the early Yuzusoft titles - Natsuzora Kanata (thanks to someone mentioning it recently on vndb forums). Since I just started, I can only say that, at least at first glance, the art looks very pretty - there are quite detailed backgrounds. Also, opening was very nice.

Edited by adamstan
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Just finished Chaos;Child, great game which I really enjoyed the twists and the mystery, the impactful scenes were also very well done, but there are so many questions in my head, I didn't understand a lot of the things that happened, about the delusions and stuff, my only issue is that it's not my type of game :) , since there is NO ROMANCE at all:

 

Spoiler

There is only one confession in one of the routes (didn't read all of Hana and Kazuki because meh), but Takuru never starts dating her (Hinae), in Senri's route it's not clear if they start seeing each other as lovers, their relationship is too sibling-ish.

And about the true ending, it's fine having a kind of sad ending, actually I found the true ending well-written, it's just not my type of ending since Takuru ends up alone, so meh, in Rewrite for example Akane's route doesn't end 100% happy, but I loved that a lot since Kotarou stays beside the woman of his life, in C;C Takuru ends up completely alone, even his friends are gone for good, so it didn't have that much of an impact in me emotionally, just read and thought "yeah cool".

Well, that aside, I recommend the game for anyone, the atmosphere and the twists are very good, and some of the characters also, and the ARTSTYLE :D .

Edited by Soul Hunter
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[CLANNAD] Alright, I just finished Kotomi's route, and wow...! This is the first Clannad route that made me shed actual tears :')

Spoiler

Initially, I was curious about Kotomi and her strange behavior... actually, I really think it would make sense if she were in the autistic spectrum.   After some time, she started to grow on me, not to mention that she can be hilarious! :wahaha: Now, for the trauma and breakdown scene and the whole childhood part... man, that broke me. It kinda triggered me and I think that's the only reason I cried: I could relate to it. I can lost my family in my childhood, just not in the literal physical sense. They are still here, but they aren't. Oh well, back to the route. I really had a hard time going through her scene when she is looking for her parents because of that amazing voice acting. :rubycry: Fuck, man, that really got me. Lastly, the only complaint is the "bag going around the world thing" lmao that's just...  :notlikemiya:

Next is Fuko's route!

 :thumbsup:

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I cried in Kotomi's route too...

10 minutes ago, Leonor said:

Next is Fuko's route!

Good luck :) Fuko's route was another one that made me cry - and I really didn't expect it judging by her behavior in common route. But well - that's the point of nakige I guess ;) In the beginning Fuuko was just some annoying little brat, but near the ending... :rubycry:

************************

As for my current read (Natsuzora Kanata), yesterday I entered Yuiko's route (I'm saving Chihaya's route, who seems to be central heroine, for the end). I really love the art style of this VN. Sprites use flat shading, and backgrounds have level of detail that sometimes is close to the backgrounds of sprite's VNs (Koichoco and Aokoana) - there are even some, where there are people with faces in them, like this one from festival:

7243.jpg

Characters are also likeable. The only thing that bothers me a bit is that two of three heroines seem to be lolis, at least when it comes to body shape.

Edited by adamstan
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Finished Necrobarista yesterday which I was mildly hyped for before its release. It looks fantastic, at least as long as your computer has enough power, because the game renders everything as it happens, even the OP. I'm a sucker for VNs that have actual visual scene direction, and in that regard Necrobarista might be one of the best titles out there. As for the story itself, it is kind of a mixed bag, which stems mainly from the game struggling with properly setting up its central conflicts. For example, early on there is this scene where this seemingly bad guy comes into the bar and tells the owner he's come to collect debt. Then the OP starts. It makes the reader think the central conflict will revolve around the main cast trying to resolve this situation. But then this thread gets more or less dropped until the epilogue where it gets solved through a deus-ex-machina and in the meantime the "bad guy" just kind of sticks around as he's friends with one of the main characters. When it comes to world building though, the game really shines, giving you a feel for the world through small anecdotes and vignettes instead of just infodumping all the rules on you. I also liked how the game handled its small-scale character conflicts, which felt genuine for the most part and led to a few very nice emotional scenes.

Overall I'd say the game is worth checking out just for its visuals (at least as long as your PC meets the recommended system requirements). And if you're looking for a low-stakes slice-of-life story in an unusual setting, you probably won't be disappointed either.

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Finished two longish vns over the past few weeks: Kajiri Kamui Kagura and Our World is Ended

Kajiri Kamui Kagura: my biggest mistake was thinking it was simply Dies Irae with an Ancient Japan facepaint, when i felt it was closer to a Dies Irae take on the Tale of Momotaro, as crazy as it sounds. Thought it had worse pacing than Dies Irae, because while i felt that had short to mid-length battles with short cooldown periods in-between, KKK had long battles with long cooldown periods in between, which wasn't quite to my liking. Biggest proof of that is that those spectacular battles against the Tenma didn't make me go crazy while this one short battle at the end of Shiori's route kept me glued to the screen. Still a great VN, but not a classic like Dies Irae.

Our World is Ended: most bizarre case of a VN getting better as it goes. Beginning is god-awful while the second half or so becomes a pretty decent plot about moving on from death. Biggest problem for me was most of the dialogue that when it wasn't crappy comedy just came off as stuff from a rip-off from a newer Persona game. Also, it's pretty funny how quick this game is to parody stuff from other games when it had supposedly serious stuff that could easily be made fun of, like

Spoiler

Yuriy going all "SCIENCE!!!" when giving his villain motivations and Reina dying four times (five if you count her death from before the game started).

Overall, a borderline good VN and i advise you to wait for at least 10 hours before you drop it because of the crappy humor.

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Playing Shoujo Dominance, and I like that the designer draw the main heroine like a strict office lady (Especially when she wear the glass) while in fact her setting is that she's just a cheerful high school student with some case of father complex (ie Electra Complex). It's not like I suspect the director planned to have usual wife husband nukige only to change the mind in the last minute to make the heroine as the daughter in order to follow their previous Amayakase and that the illustrator already draw the wife heroine, and once again I never suspect that it's the happening behind the VN at all (It must be only a coincidence that the MC said that the daughter really like his late wife, and yes that must be it). Other than the blood daughter heroine, nothing much happen until the ending when you either marry or live together without marriage which both of them did have some complication.

Spoiler

Marriage - At least it's pretty much quite normal. Although normally people wouldn't have sex in the church when the female bride wearing the wedding gown though, but what do I know about father daughter marriage in nukige anyway.

Live together without marriage or something like that - Okay, that ending is definitely slightly abnormal. While I can accept if the mom have foursome with two twins daughters, having the daughter do the foursome with two granddaughters while three of them being pregnant is certainly would raise some question. And not to mention that the unborn babies would certainly end up as the wives of the MC (And how old the MC would be when the unborn daughters grew up anyway?).

My suggestion for Shoujo Dominance would be just wait for something more interesting when it come to nukige, such as Mugen Renkan, Yamizome, or Hypno. Or if you want to try something right now just play Haruka, Escalayer, Frontier, or Monster Girl Quest.

Edited by littleshogun
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 8/4/2020 at 9:12 AM, adamstan said:

As for my current read (Natsuzora Kanata), yesterday I entered Yuiko's route (I'm saving Chihaya's route, who seems to be central heroine, for the end). I really love the art style of this VN. Sprites use flat shading, and backgrounds have level of detail that sometimes is close to the backgrounds of sprite's VNs (Koichoco and Aokoana) - there are even some, where there are people with faces in them, like this one from festival:

Spoiler

7243.jpg


Characters are also likeable. The only thing that bothers me a bit is that two of three heroines seem to be lolis, at least when it comes to body shape.

So, yesterday I finished it. It was quite decent nakige. It definitely has strong KEY vibe - especially Sasara's and Chihaya's routes. Also, common route is rather short, and each route tells its own different story - a bit like in Making*Lovers.

The setting is like this - Souta comes in the beginning of December to the strange island where the summer never ends. Actually he comes every year, to help his aunt Miho, who's running a guesthouse. And there he meets (or doesn't - it is possible to never meet Chihaya and Sasara) the heroines, and stuff happens ;) There's also a legend, that somewhere on the island there's a mirror that grants wishes.

LIke I said before, I started with Yuiko's route. She's Souta's cousin (Miho's daughter) and the first person we meet in the game. Her route seems to be the default one, if you don't actively go for another. It is the most stand-alone, and perhaps the shortest one of the three stories, maybe a bit like a "side route", but it is good to read it first, since in other two routes there are some light spoilers for it. I was initially a bit worried, since Yuiko looks like a loli, but fortunately it's mostly her sprite. I mean sure, she's almost flat-chested, and behaves a bit childish sometimes, but still she's the same age as MC, and when she turns serious it shows. Also, in H-CGs she's drawn in a more mature way. I liked how this route made use of the "group of friends" trope, portraying friendship between Yuiko, Souta (MC) and Goro. It also touches up very lightly upon the island's legend. Yuiko is also good supporting character in other routes.

After that I went with Sasara's route. She's the mysterious girl that we briefly see during preparations for the festival. Her route was very emotional, full of KEY mood, with family as one of its main themes. It also explains island's lore about granting wishes. Anything more would be a spoiler, so I'll stop here, but I really liked this route. It also has interesting quirk. There are two endings - two versions of epilogue - and they are determined by

Spoiler

ejaculation choice in the last H-scene :PTo put is simply - in one of the endings, they have a baby :D

sasara-end2.png

And lastly I read Chihaya's route, since she seemed to be the main heroine. First thing to say is that she's totally cute, moe incarnate, one of the cutest heroines I've seen. And also very kind and nice. I can understand why Souta falls in love with her almost instantly. But then drama hits, since she seems to lose her memory every three days, due to past accident. There's more to it, but that would be too spoilerish, so let's leave it at that, since it's mentioned even in summary on vndb ;) This route is kind of intertwined with Sasara's, or, to be more accurate, it also is strongly based upon island's "wish granting system" that was featured in Sasara's route. Chihaya's route also has two endings. On the first playthrough we're locked onto the "normal" one, and then on the second run there's additional choice that unlocks "true end". Both are more or less "magical", but my main complain would be that the "normal end" seems to be more developed and better written than the supposed "true ending", which seems to be a bit over the top with

Spoiler

time travel mumbo-jumbo

and it lacks post-credits epilogue. But still it was very good route.

Supporting cast was also good. Yuiko (outside her route), Futaba (her younger sister), Goro and Miho - I really liked their interactions with Souta. Well, Futaba was mostly comic relief, but she was very good at it ;)

Art is great - like I said before, backgrounds are very detailed, and I really liked the style in which characters were drawn. Especially Chihaya's sprite - she has that look taken straight from 90's anime that I love :)There were also quite funny SD CGs, especially in Sasara's and Chihaya's routes. Music is also good, emphasizing the mood of the scenes.

H-scenes were also decent. Very vanilla, but that's exactly my thing so I won't complain. They weren't too much out of character, and there was love in there, so I'm satisfied (although I skipped through some of the moaning and sfx lines :P ). They were definitely placed better than in some of the Natsu no Ame's routes.

While playing this VN I also often noticed, that some of the tropes used here also appear in the recent Summer Pockets, - the setting seems very similar, and the prologue, with the MC standing on the ferry's deck and gazing at the sea and approaching island.

When it comes to the final score, I'm a bit troubled tbh. I really enjoyed this VN, but at the same time I feel like it lacked that something special. Perhaps it's difficult to beat KEY when it comes to nakige, and when looking at it as just a charage, I guess I got spoiled by Mashiro Iro Symphony... But still, Natsukana is very good charage/nakige, and I strongly recommend getting it, especially since it can be got quite cheap on DLSite (2750JPY). 8/10

PS I also found it quite easy to read - of course, with the help of text hooker and dictionary, but still. It felt much easier than Natsu no Ame or To Heart. I think it could be added to those "beginner friendly charage" lists.

 

Now, what to read next... Perhaps I'll need some break, but after that... maybe Bokuten?

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Currently going through Hoshi Ori Yume Mirai, which to this point has been absolutely amazing, though Natsuki's route was absolutely the weakest link thus far (despite me still loving her as a character). And now I'm on my final route, which is Rikka's, which I had been looking forward to as I've heard all kinds of praise for it even in comparison to the others. However... I'm not seeing it yet. Rikka herself, despite being absolutely fine in the other routes, is coming across as extremely unlikable and bitchy for seemingly no reason and I absolutely hate it.

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I had different plans, but today I started reading Love Escalator - apparently the last VN released for PC98 (in 1998 nonetheless ;)), and one of the last games for this system at all. I thought about reading it for a while (or its 2003 Windows remake Lovers), but PC98 version couldn't be hooked from the emulator. Remake works in theory (and has voice acting), but the hooking is broken - it misses large parts of text - no matter which tool I use (ITHVNR, AGTH, Textractor - all give the same bad result).

According to vndb there was Windows release of Love Escalator    , but I couldn't find anything about it on the net. (it turns out that actually there wasn't :P)

But then today I found out about a patch for PC98 relase that ports it to Windows - and it's hookable with AGTH :D

loveesc.png

Also, I feel like I prefer the look of the old version actually. If only it was also voiced... Well, cannot have it all...

riepc98.pngrie-remake.jpg

 

Edited by adamstan
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And so my Utawarerumono marathon finally comes to an end. 30 hours for the first game, 30 hours for Mask of Deception (MoD), and 45 hours for Mask of Truth (MoT). I didn't write up a review thingy after Mask of Deception because it kind of ended on a cliffhanger; a bit of a shame cuz I thought I could get a full story via MoD and then another full story via MoT but they both together make one big story. Considering Mask of Truth released only a year after Deception I guess they simply ran out of time and so they pushed out Deception first and then went straight back to the dev room to finish up the rest via Truth.

Favorite MoD BGM:

A nice surreal nostalgic reflective theme


~~
I'm probably part of the small demographic that got to binge this entire series in one go instead of reading the original and then waiting a decade for the sequels. So whereas the original Utawarerumono started you off as this amnesiac protagonist that wakes up in the arms of a beautiful nice girl-next-door type with animal-like ears and a tail whom he gropes out of curiosity, the sequel Utawarerumono Mask of Deception instead starts you off as this amnesiac protagonist that wakes up in the arms of a beautiful girl next door type with animal-like ears and a tail whom he gropes out of curiosity. Yup, you red that right. It's the same exact setup! 
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Why hello there, Eruru- I MEAN UHH, WHO ARE YOU?!

Spoiler

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1bVbKBJ.jpg

I wonder what life would be like if people actually had tails...it would redefine what kind of Sekka-Harra you could do lmao 

 

The main heroine this time around is named Kuon. She's a well meaning girl who contrasts herself from the passive obedient nice girl-next-door Eruru by being the clever strong independent type. She just happened to be on a solo self identifying carpe diem journey around the world when she happened upon the unconscious protagonist and decided to become his caretaker. And she's quite the looker indeed. After exchanging some pleasantries, Kuon decides to give the protagonist a name: Haku.

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Hoh... Haku, as in Hakuowlo from the first game?!

 

Naturally the first thing on my mind is whether this Haku is some reincarnation of the first Haku(owlo) and Kuon is some reincarnation of Eruru. Kind of like The Legend of Zelda, where you have multiple generations of Link and Zelda across multiple generations/timelines. That'd be cool, right? This VN however does a good job of just dangling the carrot, teasing you and never really getting around to confirming or denying your suspicions. You even meet a major character named Oshtor, and his appearance just screams a Hakuowlo ripoff complete with the mask and all and you're just like EYYY THERE'S NO WAY THAT THERE IS NO CONNECTION BETWEEN THESE GUYS LIKE WTF C'MON NOW.

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Hakuowlo

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Haku

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Oshtor

Q: Which one of these three is the main character?

A: They're the same person

I jest. But it totally bugs me that no characters ever say "Hey Haku, you look like this one guy Hakuowlo that I knew from a long time ago". Not even Kuon, and she was the one who gives Haku his name AND Hakuowlo's trademark steel fan weapon. Hell, no one even goes "Hey Haku, you look like Oshtor", and these two will get plenty of screentime together. It's one of those audience-character red herring disjoints that will forever plague your mind as you read this. It's kind of like how Ash Ketchum and friends are always oblivious to Team Rocket's disguises when it should be an obvious as fuh thing to notice and exclaim about.

Haku's a good protagonist. I didn't realize it at the time, but Hakuowlo was actually super, like SUPER bland. He was too idk, capable and perfect? Since he was thrust into a ruler/leadership position quite early on he always had to be serious and couldn't really afford to banter and goof around. His inner monologues would be dull and to the point.

Haku instead gets the easygoing/laidback/lazy but dependable-when-it-matters persona, and his inner commentary is much more flavorful. He'll whine, complain, have snarky remarks, and oftentimes push Kuon's buttons just enough for her to want to wrap her tail around his head and CRUSH. In general the writing and dialogue in this VN flows much more nicely than its predecessor (though that could be the result of translation, or my attention span got better, who knows).

 

Characters: 8.5/10 Characters make or break a VN. Why the heck would I care about what's going on in the story if I don't care about the characters? Not gonna lie though, it did take me a bit to warm up to the new cast of heroines but man by the time I was reading Mask of Truth I was super fond and invested in all of them. Haku is great for his modern day protagonist revision and Kuon is the poster girl so she's obvious best girl, amplified onehundred fold when you finally learn just who she really is and consequently just want to give her a big ol' hug. Atuy is your local ditzy girl who calls everyone "-han" and has a bloodthirsty battle side; Nekone is the younger genius sister type that finds everything that the protagonist does stupid and scolds him accordingly; Nosuri is the well meaning airheaded robinhood justice thief type, Rulutieh is the nice softspoken girl that loves supporting everyone by cooking (lol how stereotypical), Anju is the spoiled bratty princess with Munechika as her strict honorable guardian. Then you get Saraana and Uruuru and while they're a bit overbearing with the absolute servitude with sexual implications towards Haku you learn to appreciate them too. The male cast is slightly underwhelming outside of the prodigy Oshtor and while they all have their bro moments with Haku none of them really stood out too much. It's always funny when you take a step back and think about how a cast this crazy ends up banding together.

 

Story: 

(MoD)- 7.5/10. Mask of Deception is sort of like the Muv-Luv before Muv-Luv Alternate: the calm before the storm. It devotes itself entirely to establishing its new cast and setting. After Kuon declares herself Haku's guardian, he decides to accompany her on her journey and the two will eventually settle upon the land of Yamato and then spend practically all of the VN's some 30 hrs in its Imperial Capital and dealing with its shenanigans and adding more heroines to the harem. Yamato is practically a utopia: the land is massive and flourishing and there is a benevolent ruler called the Mikado who is loved by all and recognized as a literal God for his mystical feats. He has 8 trusted generals dubbed "The Eight Pillar Generals" and two army commanders dubbed the "Imperial Guard of the Left (and Right)", and they'll all be relevant to the story at one point or another. Most of the VN is structured as slice of life; the first 20 hours you'll spend meeting new friends and allies and getting to know them while learning more and more about the land and its customs. It really gives an overall grand and satisfying feel to the land of Yamato.

To keep things interesting, there are even nods to the first game's events/lore and plenty of foreshadow-candy opportunities regarding Haku and Kuon's backgrounds. Unfortunately, the peaceful tranquil days aren't fated to last forever, and Haku will be inevitably forced to make an irreversible decision, and- CLIFFHANGER LOLOL GO READ MASK OF TRUTH NOOB!!

(MoT)- 9/10 Shit hit the fan, whoop-dee-doo. No more fun and games sadface. Can't really talk much because it's a big spoiler on the ending of MoD, but Mask of Truth is basically a 30 hour war campaign. Sounds boring at a glance, I know, but like I said, if you care about the characters you'll hopefully get a massive buff in caring about the story. Each location you visit during your conquest will actually be a hometown of one of the heroines and so you'll get to bond more with that particular heroine and see their family (many of whom were only briefly mentioned in MoD, and are prominent characters such as being one of the Eight Pillar Generals). The writers made sure to prepare them sweet sweet ethos to get you to care about these locations (unlike the first game where you could care less that some random named village got utterly decimated). Although, I can definitely see some readers finding the war campaign a chore/boring, especially if they never got around to liking Anju. Which I don't blame them if they didn't, the girl really didn't offer much in the likeable department. Overall though it was just great to see the camaraderie and struggles of the cast I grew to become so fond of during this conflict.

The REAL fun though happens after the war. I thought the VN was gonna end after the war so I was pleasantly surprised that it kept going. You get another hearty 10-15 hours to finally get some much needed Haku+Kuon alone time and fully explore their backgrounds and also revisit and tie up any loose ends from pivotal events/lore from the FIRST game. And it does so so, so, beautifully. *Tear*

 

Art/Music: 8/10. Art is modern moe, always love that stuff. Music is nothing special since the remastered first game included tracks from all three games so I heard nothing new.

Gameplay: 8/10 I said I didn't like SRPGs but they really improved the look and feel for the SRPG gameplay that it was actually decently fun. The first game was horrifically limited, you can only mostly attack or heal units one space away, unit had only one combo attack string, etc, very outdated and played poorly. MoD and MoT gave units multiple combo attack strings to fit variety of situations/positions and your heals are AoE instead of only healing one panel etc.

 

Not gonna do a longwinded misc. thoughts/comments, there are TOO MANY feelsgood/bad moments across the 100 hours I spent on this trilogy (70 for MoD/MoT), but man it was all totally worth just for this 
(ULTIMATE SPOILERS):

Spoiler

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THAT'S HOW YOU DO A SEQUEL 10/10 GODDAMN CLAP CLAP CLAP

 

MEANWHILE HAKU:

Spoiler

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WHATTA FKING TROLL HOW COULD YOU SAY THIS TO KUON AND THEN DISAPPEAR ON HER WTF MAN

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FIND HIS ASS AND BEAT HIM UP KUON!!!!!!!!!!!!!@#! 

 



P.S. Kuon is best girl by a huge mile, but I cannot for the love of god believe she is voiced by the same VA as grumpy scientist Mio from Chaos;Child. Like wtf man. 

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I haven't been here in a little while but I'm finally getting some reading done in Clannad! I've finished reading Fuko's and Komura's route yesterday :wafuu:

Fuko's route: 

Spoiler

Okay, she is absolutely adorable. Her party hat sprite almost gave me diabetes, c'mon, Key! I really liked both endings but I wished she would ask Tomoya out and still have his friends around... it kinda gave me the feeling that you can't date someone with your friends around lol one of the reasons I like Little Busters more... Also, I feel like Nagisa was kinda shoehorned in this route?? I know you can do Komura's and her route going through most of this one but still... I don't know , maybe it's because I wanted it to focus more on Fuko and I kinda dislike Nagisa lolol

Komura's route:

Spoiler

I can't stand Nagisa, end me, please. I'm really afraid of her route lmao Overall, I really enjoyed the simplicity of this route, it gave some more character to Komura, which was barely none before. :abilove: Not gonna lie, sweet old people are one of my weaknesses, they make me all soft inside :rubycry:

As I'm writing this, I'm almost done with Nagisa's route (only 3 hours left) but yeah, I would say so far Clannad has been a 7/10 for me, hm. :ren:

Edited by Leonor
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I was playing Koitate on psp emulator on my phone, but now I have my laptop so i can play it on my laptop! on a psp emulator! lol

I tried the pc version for koitate, but the protagonist is not voiced. Sad! I adore the VA of Taeko so much that i had to continue reading it on a psp version. I'm now on my second route with ren. The first one was with Yukino. Absolutely loved it.

118226699_632580791007920_31070170142494

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Alrighty! I've finished reading Nagisa's route!

Nagisa's route (spoilers...?)

Spoiler

For the first half of it, I just pressed skip, as I had already read it in Fuko's route. Being totally honest, I don't really like Nagisa. :ren: She's too passive lol but I did like to see more of her family and her relationship with them! Also, I've been spoiled about the second big plot twist of the game by a youtube thumbnail and title (didn't watch it, ofc) so I'm guessing the lights we've been gathering are for the big thing to happen? (in the after story part, I mean)

I'm now finishing After Story so I'll probably write my thoughts on that tomorrow! See ya!

 P.S.: That kiss CG is one of the best drawn so far (at least, when it comes to the kiss ones) in the entire game, so there's that :illya:

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On 8/22/2020 at 12:15 PM, adamstan said:

I had different plans, but today I started reading Love Escalator - apparently the last VN released for PC98 (in 1998 nonetheless ;)), and one of the last games for this system at all.

Spoiler

I thought about reading it for a while (or its 2003 Windows remake Lovers), but PC98 version couldn't be hooked from the emulator. Remake works in theory (and has voice acting), but the hooking is broken - it misses large parts of text - no matter which tool I use (ITHVNR, AGTH, Textractor - all give the same bad result).

According to vndb there was Windows release of Love Escalator, but I couldn't find anything about it on the net.

But then today I found out about a patch for PC98 relase that ports it to Windows - and it's hookable with AGTH :D

loveesc.png

Also, I feel like I prefer the look of the old version actually. If only it was also voiced... Well, cannot have it all...

riepc98.pngrie-remake.jpg


 

I'm going through it. However, that aforementioned Windows patch is a bit buggy - it doesn't play sounds (only music, and with some bugs), there are no screen transition effects other than fading, so most scene changes are abrupt, skipping doesn't work properly, and it's a bit laggy/unresponsive in general.

But! Today I found out about NPTH - a version of NekoProject II PC98 emulator that is compatible with text hookers. Yeah, I'm horribly late to the party, since it's been out for 5 years already :P Well, better late than never ;) I tested it with Textractor and it works like a charm :D So I'm probably going to restart with this emulator, skip through already read scenes, and continue from there.

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